Dr Katiuscia Bianchi

Dr Katiuscia Bianchi

PhD
Centre: Molecular Oncology
Lecturer
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I am interested in all the strategies cancer cells adopt to evade cell death.

Specifically, my research focuses on how cancer cell metabolism affects tumour growth and investigating how inflammation can drive malignant transformation.

Research Details

Cancer cells evolve to proliferate and evade cell death. Tumours indeed not only have an amazing ability to adapt to any kind of environment and nutrient condition, but they can actually re-program themselves to take advantage of any situation to grow and proliferate.

I hope to reveal how cancer cells can achieve this sheltered status in order to develop new therapeutic strategies, in particular for the treatment of breast cancer. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the contribution of cellular metabolism to cancer cell survival and proliferation.

The vast majority of tumours rely on a switch in metabolism towards anaerobic glycolysis to produce enough building blocks for their growth and successive divisions. Anaerobic glycolysis is a metabolic choice of diverting substrates away from the mitochondria despite the presence of oxygen, to allow the biosynthesis of all the components required for growth starting from glycolytic metabolic intermediates.

Another central aspect of cancer cell biology that I am investigating is inflammation driven malignant transformation. Cancer and inflammation have a close, complex relationship; my research aims to investigate whether inflammation can rewire cellular metabolism, causing malignant transformation.

The final scope of this line of my research is to design better combination therapy to limit inflammation driven malignant transformation, possibly combining anti-inflammatory drugs with drugs targeting different metabolic pathways.

Profile

I obtained my PhD in Molecular Medicine (2006) in Ferrara, Italy, studying the role of mitochondrial signalling and metabolism in different pathophysiological conditions, under the supervision of Prof. Rosario Rizzuto. I then moved for a short postdoctoral period to the INSERM in Paris, to study the role of the mitochondria in hepatocellular tumour formation.

In 2007 I obtained a FEBS long-term postdoctoral fellowship to join the apoptosis laboratory at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, led by Prof. Pascal Meier. During my post-doctoral training, I focused on the family of protein IAPs (Inhibitor of Apoptosis) and their role in inflammation and cancer. As their name suggests, this family of proteins has a strong anti-apoptotic role and we studied their role in chemotherapy-induced death of cancer cells. Thus we identified the Ripoptosome, a newly described protein complex, which plays a crucial role in cell death induction, both via apoptosis and necroptosis.

Funding

Dec 2016 - Nov 2018: CRUK Pioneer Award. "Reducing intracellular concentration of serine for the treatment of cancer" (Two years) £188,000

2014-2017: Project grant from Barts and the London Charity: "Exploiting novel links between inflammation and cellular metabolism to prevent tumorigenesis and tumour development" (3 years) £252.017

Key Publications

Tenev T, Bianchi K*, Darding M, Broemer M, Langlais C, Wallberg F, Zachariou A, Lopez J, Macfarlane M, Cain K, Meier P. The Ripoptosome, a signaling platform that assembles in response to genotixc stress and loss of IAPs. Mol Cell 2011 43 (3): 432-48 *co-author. PMID: 21737329

Bianchi K, Meier PA tangled web of ubiquitin chains: breaking news in TNF-R1 signaling.Mol Cell. 2009 Dec 11;36(5):736-42. Review. PMID:20005838

Szabadkai G, Bianchi K*, Varnai P, De Stefani D, Wieckowki MR, Cavagna D, Nagy AI, Balla T, Rizzuto R. Chaperone-mediated coupling of endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondrial Ca2+ channels. J Cell Biol. 2006 Dec 18;175(6):901-11 *co-author. PMID: 17178908


Further Publications

Additional publications can be found here


I am interested in all the strategies cancer cells adopt to evade cell death.

Specifically, my research focuses on how cancer cell metabolism affects tumour growth and investigating how inflammation can drive malignant transformation.

External Activities

I will hire a postdoctoral research assistant to start in early autumn (click for details)

See other researchers working on:

Breast Cell Signalling Immunology Metabolism
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